by Stephen Tall on November 30, 2014
The Lib Dems now have a President-elect: yesterday it was announced that Sal Brinton had won the only post other than that of party leader subject to an all-member ballot. Congratulations to her; and a big thanks to runner-up Daisy Cooper as well as Liz Lynne for ensuring a healthy debate.
However, this post isn’t about them, it’s about the current President (until 31st December, when the second of his two-year terms expire), Tim Farron.
Tim might not have been party president. Initially he stood for election as the Deputy Leader in June 2010, following Vince Cable’s decision to quit that post when he entered the cabinet. He lost out to Simon Hughes, himself a former president. So when a few months later, Baroness (Ros) Scott unexpectedly decided not to stand for a second term as party president, Tim threw his hat into the ring, and beat off tough competition from Susan Kramer to win. He was elected unopposed for a second term in 2012.
It’s not been the easiest four years to have responsibility for representing the interests of party members. It hasn’t simply been the difficulties of being in coalition government. There have also been highly contentious issues needing sensitive handling, such as the allegations against Chris Rennard.
I’ve occasionally heard it said that Tim has kept his hands clean by not serving in government. Perhaps, but that he has managed successfully to emerge from the party presidency with his reputation for integrity intact, and indeed enhanced, despite all the bear-traps of the past four years says something. Actually, it says a lot.
Tim has managed to walk the tightrope of representing the party membership when it disagrees with the leadership without ever being disloyal in doing so. He has tirelessly campaigned up and down the country, enthusing an at times beleaguered membership to stick with it.
For all this, and for much more that many of us will never have seen, Tim deserves our thanks, I think. If you agree, why not chip in your own appreciation below-the-line…
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.